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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Jul 28 | 12:00 AM - 09:25 AM

Patriots.com News Blitz 9/3/04

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To the untrained eye, the final score of last night's exhibition swan song might be cause for alarm. After all, the Patriots did lose 31-0 to a Jacksonville Jaguars team that they beat towards the end of last season. However, as Nick Cafardo points out in The Boston Globe, "nobody hobbled out of Gillette Stadium and if Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy wanted to glean anything from the Patriots in preparation for Thursday's season opener here, forget it. Bill Belichick showed him nothing."

Despite another inconsistent performance, Belichick named Rohan Davey the official backup to Tom Brady heading into the regular season. Globe correspondent Adam Kilgore writes the "reigning NFL Europe Offensive Player of the Year, still needs to show he possesses the awareness to play in the NFL."

While the most important thing to take away from the game may be the health of the starting units, there were still some on-field bright spots for the Patriots, including the play of Patrick Pass. "The fifth-year fullback showed his value by playing on offense and special teams," writes Ron Indrisano of the Globe.

Also in the Globe, Ron Borges asserts, "it could have been worse, believe it or not. You could have been a Jaguars fan. Or worse, a Jaguars coach. If you were one of the latter, like offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, how do you explain your first-team offense being held scoreless in the first half by a defense anchored by Randall Gay and Christian Morton at the corners and Dexter Reid at safety?"

Kevin Mannix of The Boston Herald looks at last night's game from a fan's perspective, saying "when you travel Route 1 at night in August or early September, you know you're going to see some of the scrubs. But you should have the reasonable expectation of seeing some NFL football."

Michael Felger notes historical precedence that supports Belichick's decision to bench the starters. The last thing Belichick wanted to see last night was a repeat of "Sept. 1, 1989, when [then coach Raymond] Berry gave three key defensive players extensive time in the fourth exhibition game against Green Bay at Foxboro Stadium," writes Felger. "The result was season-ending injuries to linebacker Andre Tippett, cornerback Ronnie Lippett and defensive end Garin Veris."

Also in the Herald, Rich Thompson weighs in on Davey, writing "Davey did little to justify Belichick's confidence in the Patriots' 31-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last night in the preseason finale at Gillette Stadium."

Tom Curran of The Providence Journal, who prophesized a "snoozefest" in yesterday's paper, notes that the game was not a waste of time for everyone. "Players like linebacker Justin Kurpeikis, a 27-year-old, third-year pro out of Penn State, needed this game. He had 11 tackles," writes Curran.

In today's notebook, Curran spotlights another player who helped himself in last night's game, Rhode Island native Michael Cloud, who carried 19 times for 93 yards. "Cloud definitely improved as the game went along and it didn't appear that was tied to the level of competition. He showed good burst and shake late in the game," writes Curran.

Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant is not sold on Belichick's naming of Davey as the number two guy. "A week from now, when Belichick figures out what veteran he can acquire from another team, that answer seems likely to change," writes Greenberg.

In The MetroWest Daily News, Mike Reiss reports on the absence of Kevin Faulk, back-up to Corey Dillon and a consistent producer for Belichick the last several years. "News of Faulk's status was first reported on an Internet message board, which stated Faulk was caring for an ailing family member," writes Reiss. "Faulk's situation could also be related to a knee injury suffered in last Saturday's game against the Panthers, when he was tackled from behind. Faulk's agent, Raymond Brothers, was unavailable for comment."

Reiss also looks ahead to next Thursday's season opener, "when quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and one of the driving influences behind the league's "point of emphasis" on defensive contact after five yards -- Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy -- arrive to kick off the NFL season."

Lenny Megliola of the MetroWest suggests the Patriots may look to an old friend for depth at quarterback. "Doug Flutie's days with the San Diego Chargers may be numbered, but if the team releases him is Flutie headed back to New England?" muses Megliola.

Jim Fennel of The Union Leader writes that Belichick knew what he was doing in benching the starters last night, and says one should not question the man who has brought New England their only professional sports titles since 1986. "In Bill we believe, so we accept this out from left field move as one more stroke of Belichick genius. We're sure this is the way all NFL teams will do it next year," writes Fennel.

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